Digital Content: How to Avoid Paying for Everything

The capability of content developers to produce material is increasing exponentially, and the Internet infrastructure grows furiously to keep up. How does one avoid paying for every little thing thrown at us in this mêlée?


The idea must be that if enough content is thrown out there, things like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and a couple of million iOS and Android apps, people will just keep buying stuff and corresponding revenues will rise.

The guiding principle I've always used to fight this assault is Sturgeon's Law. That is, 90 percent of everything is crap. That means that, as an Apple customer, it's not a bad idea to apply your taste in hardware to just about everything else. There's really no other choice.

Along those lines, I saw an article recently that explained the difference between advertising and marketing. If I recall correctly -- and I'm sure I'll be set straight -- is that in advertising you convince the customer to buy what you have for sale. In marketing, you tell the customer about your solution to their problem. Even if this isn't textbook stuff, I think it tells a strong story about what's out there for sale these days.

I tend to look for solutions to problems, and so far, I haven't found that 95 percent of iOS apps solve a real problem. Neither does Facebook. These are things that are hunters. They want to rope you in with a promise and then take your money. Or privacy.

Not everything that's advertised with digital flourish, sound and fury, is a solution to a problem. But it is a furious attempt to take your time and money.

I've discovered that there's, more and more, a right time to drop certain TV shows from the DVR's series list. Some adventure shows just string things out into a second or third season, and you fall into a habit. The excellence is gone, and it's time to move on. Hitting the delete button for a folder full of unwatched shows is a hard thing to do, but it's often necessary.

The soon arrival of the holiday period will creating a crushing load on our time, funds and sensibilities. I know what I'm going to do. Sit back, relax, cook, spend time with friends, and go for the very best of what's offered in my digital world. Time is too precious to do anything else.


Tech News Debris for the Week of November 18

Daniel Eran Dilger has done it again. This time he's looked into the politics and money trail of organizations that report on industry sales of PCs, phones, tablets, etc. This is must reading. "The curious case of IDC, Gartner & Strategy Analytics' PC, phone & tablet data on Apple."

This next article is great because it presents a different viewpoint from a woman writer, Joanna Schroeder. The gist is that while some of us Apple fans love to poke fun at Microsoft TV ads, this ad actually speaks to Ms. Schroeder in an eloquent way. For a glimpse into the other side, check out "Is This Microsoft Commercial the Most Feminist Thing on TV?"

When Apple killed the Xserve, I thought it was a terrible idea. I still do, and I've written why before. In fact, I sold Xserves when I worked for Apple to research organizations. And so I know that at lot of what Thomas Brand says here is a bit off base. Still, he makes some good points, made from the viewpoint of an outsider. I present it here to get a dialog going, and I may yet address his arguments now that I have published a findable link. Meanwhile, what do you think? "Killing the Xserve."

This next one is pretty geeky. It'll be of interest if you want to upgrade an older iMac. And it could be useful just to learn some hardware ins-and-outs. Presented for consideration: "Stayin’ Alive: Upgrading the CPU, Hard Drive, and RAM on a 2006 iMac."

Apple makes a boatload of money, but its stock is stagnant because growth has stalled. Amazon earns no money at all, but is still growing, so investors love them. The contrast between the two business models is explained by Jean-Louis Gassée in his Monday Note: "Amazon and Apple Business Models."

The next article falls into a category which all of us professional Mac writers use from time to time. It's called: We love you Apple, but sometimes you just gotta get a clue. And so, here's a highly recommended read from a luminary in the Mac world, Lex Friedman. "Can't trust this: Inconsistencies shake faith in Apple."

Some of the most compelling articles about Microsoft, of course, come from writers who view the company positively, hope for the best, and really see what it needs to do to move forward. Again, we have an illuminating view from the other side of the fence by someone new on my list of people to follow on Twitter, Jessica Dolcourt. "Nokia buy can't fix Windows Phone's biggest hurdle: Itself."

Are you in the delicious mode of having to decide on purchasing a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air? Here's a great article by Peter Cohen that will help you decide. "MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which laptop should you get?"

Will your new Smart TV spy on you? I am sure, after LG is called on the carpet, they'll just say, "Oops. programmer error. No harm, no foul."

Will Apple really, really build a toaster-fridge? Oh, the embarrassment! Most observers, me included, claim that Apple has defined a tablet in its purest form and there never will be a Tim Cook "toaster-fridge." If you haven't heard of all this, read up: "Rumoured 12.9 inch Retina display destined for bigger iPad or iPad-MacBook hybrid?" As for me? It'll never happen.

Here is an intriguing possibility. What if Apple were to offer a kind of super "iCloud Home" Mac-based server for the home office? I think this would be a terrific idea, and I've as much as suggested it before. Here's the intriguing story on a patent Apple has filed. "Could Apple be working on the ‘iCloud Home,’ a Mac-based iCloud server for the home/office?"

John Kirk has developed an effective, charming writing style of sprinkling his essays with quotes that reinforce his commentary at every step of the article. I like it, and of course, the quotes are a great source for us other writers. Like all of John Kirk's work, this is worth a read, "Microsoft: Failing By Design." His last quote is from Bill Gates.

In this business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself.

I don't know when Bill Gates said that, but it certainly applies to Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's very tardy and failed entrance into the tablet market.

This is one of those long but oh-so informative treatises that looks like it will be a pain to read, but you really should. Federico Viticci is high on my list of people to follow, and so I enthusiastically recommend: "Leaving Google Chrome: Why I’ve Returned To Safari."

Many years ago, at Applelinks, I wrote an article on the important languages one should learn as a beginner. As I recall, C and Perl were on the list. Times have changed, and I think this author is in track with a JavaScript recommendation. "Which Language Should You Learn First?"

However, there is a next step. My wife has been a professional Java developer for a decade, and I can you this. The very next decision you make after you learn programming is to decide on your programming career. C++ is dying. You're either going to do professional programming for the government or the enterprise, and the only right answer in 2013 is all the related Java technologies in concert with Oracle's tools and database technologies. The reason is that Java is no longer just a language to learn. It's a related suite of Java technologies that employers will quiz you on.

Otherwise, you can work in iOS development and learn Objective-C. That's it. Pick one. Anything else you need, as an aside, like Python, Ruby, Perl and/or C can be picked up along the way.

Finally, here's a nicely balanced article by a fellow who made the intentional transition from an iPhone 4 to a Nexus 5. I won't tell you ending: the journey will be the reward. "Here's what happened when an iPhone loyalist tried a Nexus 5."


Human time and hourglass images via Shutterstock.